Being generous simply means giving freely of yourself – your knowledge, your expertise, your time, or your possessions – without expecting anything in return. It can range from helping a disabled person with her groceries to serving on the board of a nonprofit organization. It’s good for you – numerous research studies have shown that generous people are healthier and happier and have higher levels of life satisfaction.
Generosity doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but you can incorporate it into your life by making a commitment to perform one selfless act every day. Doing something like a thirty minute informational interview about your field may seem small to you, but it can mean a great deal to a person who looks up to you, or is going through a difficult period. Start very small, and increase your commitment as you get more comfortable.
You can also get involved in an activity that requires you to exercise your generosity on an ongoing basis. Mentoring a colleague – either younger or older – is a terrific way to share the fruits of a successful career, and helping to better society through volunteer work with a community-based organization will allow you to give back while building lasting ties and a repertoire of new skills. And because giving is contagious, you’ll find your own sense of generosity increasing if you hang out with similarly-minded people.
Some people find their efforts at generosity hindered by the fear that there aren’t enough resources to go around. “But my group is downsizing. How can I take the time to help others when my own livelihood is on the line?” you might ask. Remember that no matter how precarious your situation is, there are a lot of people out there who have it much worse. Act according to the laws of karma and assume that what you put into the world will eventually come back.